Borderlands

Borderlands

Borderlands

Borderlands

Excerpt

This book examines six remote border regions of Asia. They are Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island; the Sulu Sea, including North Borneo and Mindanao; the Shan and Kachin States of Burma; the protectorate of Sikkim, a sample of India's Himalayan border; Afghan Turkestan, between the Hindu Kush and Soviet Central Asia; and, finally, the eastern fourth of Turkey to the Soviet and Iranian boundaries.

A reader may well wonder whether these lands have anything in common, or simply find themselves by chance between the same hard covers. An elephant and a whale happen to be large mammals, but this hardly entitles them to share a cage in a zoo. To someone who has not known these borderlands at first hand, they would appear no more comparable. They lie scattered all the way across Asia from the North Pacific to the Black Sea; their climates range from stinging cold to tropical; their people have had little or no contact with one another through the ages. One of the six belongs to a highly industrialized modern nation; the rest are only beginning to respond, in varying degrees, to the impact of Western technology and ideas. In our early acquaintance with the six regions, it did not occur to us that they might belong to the same genus of human society, or, for that matter, that we would want to write a serious book about them.

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